Arkansas Lawmakers Weigh Competing Tort Reform Ideas

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 5:33 pm  

Arkansas Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson is one of legislators proposing ballot measures to address rulings that overturned parts of a 2003 tort reform law.

Hutchinson said he crafted the bill after talking with business and lawyers groups to see if a compromise on addressing tort reform would be. He said he believed specifying the reforms would provide more certainty than giving the rule-making authority to the Legislature.

"Obviously I prefer an approach that spells out exactly what tort reform is going to be and having people vote on tort reform measures rather than removing the Supreme Court's rule-making authority and give it to the Legislature. Then voters won't know what the Legislature's going to do it with it," said Hutchinson, R-Benton. "I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of inconsistency depending on who has control of the Legislature and what issues arise."

Trammell said the trial lawyers association isn't endorsing Hutchinson's idea, but won't oppose it either.

"If we really have to do something to make everybody happy so they feel like there are some restraints on the judicial system, let's address it head on," he said. "That's what the Hutchinson bill does."

Williams said he doesn't necessarily see the two measures as competing proposals, and Hutchinson said he was hopeful the two could a find compromise between their idea.s

"The approaches may be quite different," Hutchinson said. "I think the end result is pretty similar."

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